Peoria police expand use of ShotSpotter technology that alerts officers to gunshots

March 01, 2015

PEORIA, Illinois — Peoria police have plans to expand use of a gunshot detection system that officers have said makes them more efficient.

The Peoria Police Department has been using ShotSpotter technology in a 3-square-mile area of South Peoria since November 2013, the Journal Star reported (http://bit.ly/1G7haCz ). The department is preparing to expand coverage into the North Valley, East Bluff and Central Peoria.

The system promises near instantaneous notification of gunfire through communication technology and audio triangulation.

"It's been embraced by the officers," Assistant Chief Mike Eddlemon said.

Peoria spent $405,000 on a three-year contract with ShotSpotter in 2013 for the South Peoria area. This month the Peoria City Council approved doubling the coverage area at a cost of $459,000 for three years. Police hope to have equipment installed in the new areas in the next three months.

Statistics show that officers have located evidence of gunfire in 71.4 percent of cases when a citizen has called 911 along with a ShotSpotter alert. Without an alert, police confirm gunfire complaints in 8.9 percent of cases. Numbers are less clear on false positives, or alerts issued for sounds that aren't gunfire or can't be confirmed.

"ShotSpotter is a tool, and it has consistently paid dividends. But like any tool, especially sophisticated electronic equipment, it can fail," Eddlemon said. "We're still no worse off by checking that."

Eddlemon said alerts can give police information about behavior patterns and help keep officers safe.

The Republic